Celebrating 2021 Young New Zealander of the Year Finalists
The Young New Zealander of the Year Award finalists for 2021 are Brianna Fruean, Jazz Thornton and Dr. Zhiyan Basharati. This award celebrates young people who are working hard to make a positive impact within our community.
Meet our 3 finalists.
Brianna Fruean has been campaigning for climate justice for most of her life. As a young girl in Samoa, where much of the population lives in low-lying coastal areas, hearing the implications climate change would have for her island jumpstarted Brianna’s activism and she hasn’t looked back since. At 11, she became a founding member of the Samoan chapter of the global climate organisation 350.org. At 14, she attended the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development as a youth ambassador and at 16 she won the prestigious Commonwealth Youth Award for her environmental activism. Brianna was the first youth ambassador for the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme and in 2017 she gave a keynote address at COP23 (the United Nations Climate Change conference) in Germany. In 2019, after helping organise Auckland’s School Strike 4 Climate, she attended COP25 in Spain where she spoke alongside former United States Secretary of State, John Kerry. When she attends environmental summits, Brianna speaks about youth perspectives and concerns about the impacts of climate change. Brianna, now 22, studies Politics and International Relations at the University of Auckland and sits on the Council of Elders for the Pacific Climate Warriors.